An Evening in Paris – Valentine’s Day Dinner

This is our first year celebrating Valentine’s Day as a married couple. Not that we do anything special on Valentine’s Day to begin with but this year, I felt like going the extra mile. I decided to make the hubby a full course French meal with the theme of the evening being “An Evening in Paris”.

I found this Valentine’s Day menu template from a blogger and customized it slightly to accommodate the Paris theme. It took me several days of research consisting of looking up various cookbooks to come up with a full course menu. In the end, I settled on the following dishes:

Appetizers

  • Bacon Parmesan Gougère
  • Charcuterie Plate consisting of Tapenade Noire, Pork & Chicken Liver Pâté, Homemade French Bread, and Grapes
  • House Salad

Entrée

Dessert

Chocolate Soufflé with Espresso Crème Anglaise

We started the night with some French music playing in the background to set the mood. We listened to the “French Cafe Lounge” playlist on Spotify which was pretty good! Then we started the evening with the appetizers and a bottle of red wine of course 🙂

Yes, I even busted out napkins – we usually use paper towels but decided to be classy tonight 😉

The Tapenade Noire turned out really good! It only consisted of black olives, anchovies, capers, and olive oil. I should’ve used a food processor but was lazy and ended up using the Vitamix instead with mediocre results. Luckily, it still tasted great. To see the full recipe, click here.

Next was the Bacon and Parmesan Gougère. A gougère is essentially a French cheese puff made with choux pastry mixed with cheese. I added in the bacon to make it extra savoury 🙂 For the full recipe, click here.

For the Main, we had the Beef Bourguignon with Cauliflower Gratin on the side. This Beef Bourguignon recipe was inspired by Julia Child and ended up tasting super delicious! It’s very rich though so it won’t take much to fill you up. For the full recipe, click here.

Lastly, we ended the evening with Chocolate Soufflé. Sadly, we didn’t get a chance to capture this… 🙁 If you’re looking for other ideas for sweets, check out our Chocolate Dipped Pretzel recipe!

And that was it! As expected, this French meal was super rich… lots of cheese and butter haha. We wouldn’t mind having this type of meal once in a while but definitely can’t handle it on a regular basis. Hope you guys give these recipes a try and Bon Appétit!

Chinese Turnip Cake (Lor Bak Go)

Chinese New Years may have passed but that doesn’t mean we still can’t celebrate with Chinese Turnip Cake! I love ordering these at the restaurants and with our never ending obsession with buying daikon to make pickled daikon or Japanese dishes, it seemed to make sense to make turnip cake with any extra daikon that we can’t finish.

However, as some of you may know, finding Chinese recipes on the internet isn’t exactly the easiest thing and even when I do find one, I’m skeptical as to how credible the source is how ‘authentic’ the recipe is. Lucky for us, we’ve stumbled across the blog WoksOfLife and tried a few of their recipes and found them to be quite authentic and delicious. And thus, they became our default go to site for any Chinese recipes. When we decided to make Chinese Turnip Cake, lo and behold, we checked their site first and luckily, they had it (yay!)

The ingredients aren’t too hard to find – in fact, we would say most of them are staples in a Chinese household.

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Steak dinner with friends

Last night we met up with our other foodie friends who also loves to cook. They recently bought a Kamado BBQ charcoal grill and have been looking for every opportunity to use it. They kindly invited us over for dinner, having bought some prime ribs and T-bone steak from McEwan’s grocery store, along with some bone marrow.

Knowing our friends would be supplying the mains, we stopped by J town in the morning to pick up some groceries that we felt would be great on the grill. It just so happened that we stumbled across an old man selling fresh Japanese vegetables that morning and decided to pick some up for the BBQ.

Myoga (Japanese ginger), Japanese green peppers, Shishito peppers, tomatoes, White Kabocha

Of all the vegetables we bought, we only ended up grilling the Shishito peppers and the tomatoes. If you haven’t had charcoal grilled tomatoes before, you must! It tastes amazing! As for the Shishito peppers (the skinny long ones), did you know approximately 1 in every 10 peppers is spicy? This can be a fun game to play with your friends to see who gets lucky 😉

For dinner, we also made our popular green lettuce salad with roasted tomato vinaigrette. We also added in some fresh pork belly (Bacon), toasted some baguette as crutons, and sliced up some radishes and cucumber for garnish.

Our friends also bought a bunch of bone marrow for approximately $4 each which isn’t bad considering how large they were. We soaked the bone marrow in some salted water first to get rid of all the impurities. After 30 mins or so, we rinsed them and seasoned them with salt and pepper, then topped them with lots of chopped garlic (because we are huge garlic lovers..).  We then proceeded to pop them in the charcoal BBQ until the bone marrow was jiggly to the touch as we know that would make a great spreadable consistency.

I must tell you… that bone marrow was so good! When spread on freshly toasted bread, it was the bomb! I tried not to think about how bad that must be for my arteries… but they always say the better it tastes… the worser it is for your health 🙁 …

The T bone steak and prime ribs were done very well too. We used the reverse sear method and finished it off on the flaming grill.

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Father’s Day Tomahawk Steak Dinner

Father’s day may be over but that doesn’t mean you can’t make your loved ones a delicious Tomahawk steak dinner!

We picked this bad boy up at the Cheese Boutique out in Etobicoke. We originally wanted to go there to pick up some artisanal cheese but was pleasantly surprised when we found out this place was actually a grocery store too! We honestly expected to go in and only see cheese based on the name lol.

This place was like whole foods, but better because things weren’t crazily overpriced but you can tell the quality of their food was good. What really impressed us was while we were shopping, a guy came around and offered us espresso. The first thing that came to mind was “Do we have to pay for this?” but it didn’t seem like it would cost us anything so we just went for it. Nothing makes us feel more special than having espresso while grocery shopping, especially when it comes served to you in a saucer with a little shortbread cookie! How cute 🙂

They even came around with free sorbet after! This place was awesome. We got to sample all the cheeses and cured meats too. Love it.

Anyways, we ended up leaving the store with quite a number of things, the Tomahawk steak being one of them.

We prepared the steak using the reverse sear method that we learned from Serious Eats and it turned out delicious! The key is to generously season the steak with freshly ground pepper and coarse sea salt. It may seem like a lot of salt on the steak but trust us, it’s not! Continue reading

Scalloped Potatoes Recipe

If you want to make a side dish to impress your family and friends, this scalloped potatoes recipe is the way to go.

After a really long week at work, nothing takes my mind off the stress than cooking and baking. I feel bad for neglecting my blog for such a long time and I feel like I’m not updating as much as I could. This is partially due to my busy work schedule, and partially due to the fact that when the weekend finally rolls around, I’m so exhausted that all I want to do is relax and do nothing. Not to mention, adulting nowadays consist of hanging out with family and friends so we don’t cook at home as much since we usually go out to eat.

I guess you could argue that we could cook for them but our condo is pretty small and it’s hard to accommodate a lot of people.

Since we were entertaining family this weekend, I was motivated to think of a dinner menu which we don’t normally cook. Instead of having mashed or baked potatoes with our steak, I decided to make scalloped potatoes instead. Besides, we bought all this whole milk as it was on sale last week that it made sense to use it up before it went bad.

To find out how to make this dish, refer to the recipe below:

Scalloped Potatoes Recipe

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour

Yield: 4

Scalloped Potatoes Recipe

Ingredients

  • 4 russet potatoes, thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 1⁄2 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • a pinch of smoked paprika
  • freshly grated nutmeg
  • freshly ground black pepper (season to taste)
  • 1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • few sprigs of fresh thyme (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F.
  2. In a small sauce pan over medium high heat, melt the butter and stir in the flour to make a roux. Stir for a few minutes unill it thickens and turns as light nutty brown in color.
  3. Add the cold milk, stirring with a whisk to eliminate any lumps.
  4. Season with salt, nutmeg, freshly ground pepper, and smoked paprika.
  5. Cook sauce on low until smooth and boiling, stirring occasionally with a whisk. Once the sauce has thickened, stir in the cheese.
  6. In a lightly greased 13 x 9 rectangular baking tray, layer the thinly sliced potatoes all over the bottom of the baking tray.
  7. Pour a thin layer of the sauce over the potatoes. Then, repeat with a second layer of potatoes and cheese sauce. Continue until you've used up all your potatoes/sauce.You may top the rest of the potatoes with an extra layer of grated cheese if you wish.
  8. Bake uncovered for about 1 hour at 350°F or until the top is golden brown.
  9. Garnish with a few sprigs of fresh thyme and serve immediately.
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http://cookingwithteamj.com/2017/06/10/scalloped-potatoes-recipe/

Ochazuke recipe

I love Ochazuke… Maybe it’s because I’m always cold regardless of the season but I love how this dish always warms me up. It’s such a simple dish but it tastes so good. This post is part of the #JapanWeek series.

I’ve always wondered how people make this – what goes into the tea or broth? How is it so flavourful?  Is it really just green tea over rice because when I drink green tea by itself, it sure doesn’t taste as good as this.

I took a pretty big risk when I decided to make it for the very first time the night of our anniversary dinner as I have no idea how it would turn out. Surprisingly, it turned out better than expected! We even made some slight modifications to the original recipe to try and enhance the flavour of the ‘soup’. The sour taste of the picked plum along with the salty nori, green tea broth, and rice, was a really nice combination. It’s also a good way to use up leftover Japanese rice!

This was the green tea I used for my Ochazuke:
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Chirashi bowl

Chirashi bowls have become a thing in our household now. Whenever we want to make Japanese food, our default answer is to make Chirashi.

I guess the reason we tend to default to this is because:

a) We’ve found a pretty good sushi rice recipe

b) We can make numerous Chirashi bowls with a single cut of fish.

Although the cut of fish isn’t cheap, if you consider how many portions you can make out of it, it’s pretty worth it as it’s much cheaper than what we’d be paying in the restaurant.

As part of the #JapanWeek series, I decided to ball a little bit since it was for a special occasion. I chose Blue Fin Tuna (please don’t go extinct – you’re one of my favourite fishes for sushi), Uni from British Columbia, and Scallops from Hokkaido, Japan. I learned that the best way to make this bowl even more visually stunning is to include fish with different colors, top it with a generous amount of pickled ginger to cleanse the palette, and finally garnish it with a dollop of fresh wasabi.

If you want to make a simple dish that would impress your friends and family, this is it. It’s really not that hard to make but the presentation is just stunning. I would say the hardest part was slicing the fish evenly ^_^”

 

Nobu’s Miso Black Cod Recipe

I love miso black cod. Everytime I go to a Japanese restaurant, this is the default dish that I order. When it came to me brainstorming what I should make for our anniversary dinner this weekend, this dish immediately came to mind as it’s one that I think we’d both enjoy. Besides, I wanted to learn how to make it so that I don’t have to wait until I go out to a restaurant to have it. This post will be part of an ongoing series called #JapanWeek

While searching for a recipe online, Nobu’s recipe was clearly the most popular one. As always, I cross referenced this recipe with several others to see if there was a significant difference in terms of proportion of ingredients and method of preparation but it was pretty unanimous. All recipes required me to marinate this fish 2-3 days in advance to get the most flavour out of it.

And boy was it worth it. The fish was so flavourful… and after searing it in a hot pan and baking it the oven afterwards, it left this nice golden crust which was soooo goood.

I’d make this more often but the fish itself was pretty pricy –  I paid $20 for 2 pieces of fish… mind you it was a very generous cut of fish but still…

To view the recipe, keep reading

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Agedashi Tofu Recipe

This weekend marks Team J’s 7th anniversary. In order to celebrate, I decided to make a Japanese dinner since J loves all things Japanese. I will be featuring all the dishes that I made on the blog as part of the #JapanWeek series.

I’ve been prepping for this meal all week – looking up various recipes and blogs to get inspired as to what to make. I finally came up with the final menu and I got super excited because I knew he would love the dishes that I will be making. One of the dishes I stumbled across was this Agedashi Tofu recipe and I knew it would be the perfect appetizer dish because it was light and simple.

Agedashi Tofu

I adapted this recipe from JustOneCookbook and slightly altered the sauce recipe from a Japanese cookbook that we owned. Although I’ve never made this dish before, it turned out really well!

For this Agedashi Tofu recipe, see below:

Agedashi Tofu Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1/2 of a medium-firm tofu block
  • 1/3 cup potato starch
    Sauce
  • 1 1/3 cup dashi stock
  • 3 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp mirin
    Toppings
  • Bonito flakes
  • Grated ginger
  • Grated daikon
  • Thinly sliced green onions

Instructions

  1. First, prepare the sauce. Add light soy sauce, mirin, and dashi stock into a stock pot and bring to a boil. Once boiling, bring the heat down to low to keep warm until ready to use.
  2. Cut the medium-firm tofu into small blocks and dry them all in a paper towel to remove as much moisture as possible.
  3. Meanwhile, prep the vegetable oil in a small sauce pot or deep fryer until oil is 350F.
  4. Once the oil has reached 350F, lightly dredge the tofu in potato starch and deep fry the tofu until they turn golden brown. When done, remove them from the oil and place them on a wire rack lined with paper towel to remove excess oil.
  5. Place fried tofu into a shallow dish and pour the hot sauce on the side of the bowl (not directly on top of the tofu). Garnish with grated ginger, grated daikon, thinly sliced green onions, and bonito flakes. Serve immediately.
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Chinese Wintermelon Soup Recipe

If there’s one thing we missed about living at home, it’s the soup that our parents used to make us. We generally prefer drinking Chinese soup opposed to western soup as it tends to be more light. I don’t think you’ll ever see heavy cream being used in a Chinese soup recipe lol. Surprisingly enough, Chinese soup is pretty easy to make but getting the right ingredients can be tricky.

Before I moved out, I asked my dad to give me his Chinese wintermelon soup recipe. It’s quite common for Chinese people to not follow a recipe and just wing it so he did his best to give me his guestimations when it came to how much of each ingredient to put in. We made this several times now and let’s just say the Chinese dried mushrooms made a huge difference in terms of adding flavour!

Wintermelon Soup

It’s best to let this soup sit overnight to help the flavours really develop. You can still drink this right away and it’ll taste good but it’ll taste even better tomorrow so try to make this a day in advance 🙂

Here’s how we made the soup:

First, gather your ingredients. As you can see, there aren’t that many.

Soup ingredients

There are a few key things to note:

  • Presoak your dried Chinese shiitake mushrooms and dried dates (found in your local chinese supermarket – likely dried soup mix section) in warm water for at least an hour
  • Do NOT throw away the water which it was soaking in. These ingredients released a lot of flavour so do not waste them. Save them for the soup later.
  • Try to have a mixture of pork and chicken bones to make the stock. This will enhance the flavour of the soup

Once you have all those items ready, it’s time to parbroil your chicken and pork bones to get rid of all the impurities. Do this for 5 minutes and then rinse it under cold water. Make sure to give them a good rub to really get rid of all the dirty.

Rinse

After parbroiling the bones, put it back into a large stock pot along with the rest of the ingredients (and the water which the mushrooms and dates were soaking in!) and fill the pot up until all the ingredients are covered. Bring it up to a boil and once boiling, turn it down to a gentle simmer for at least 1 hour.

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